Local organic farmers use unique technique on crops

Brett Bachtle
Created: December 27, 2019 10:43 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Organic food sales in the United States have grown exponentially in the last decade, hitting a record $52 billion in 2018 according to the Organic Trade Association. 2019 is looking to be even better.

With the growing popularity, local farmers are turning to a new method to keep their crops pesticide free.


A technique called flame weeding works by boiling the water inside the cell of the weed until it destroys the cell structure.

“We’re going across it at five and half miles an hour so there’s pretty intense heat there,” said Paul Schmidt of Schmidt Farm.

Schmidt is one of the few organic farmers in the region and the only organic farmer in southeast Minnesota that he knows uses this new method to rid his crops of weeds.

“Flame weeding among organic growers is a pretty common practice,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt takes the flame to his organic corn.

“When that corn spikes through about an inch, then we burn right over the top of it because the growing point to the corn is still below the ground so we don’t damage the corn at all,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt made the switch about a decade ago for more consistent results. He says if you too are interested in investing in the new method, some assembly is required.

“You just got to find one of these old cultivators for about a thousand bucks and then put about six to ten thousand dollars of retrofit on it. It’s probably a ten thousand dollar tool,” Schmidt said.

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